‘Tis at the cross of Christ where earth and heaven meet
Where sin is overcome, to God the victory13
These popular lyrics, which we sing during corporate worship, capture in poetry a reality that must be our paradigm; our lenses through which we view the rest of theological discourse. In Kingdom language the realm of God comes marauding into our realm precisely in the Crucifixion; it is the point at which heaven collides into earth. In eschatological language, the Cross is also the proleptic invasion of God’s Future into our present;14 the point at which the end of the story crashes into the beginning. The Cross is the precise way in which God’s power and justice are brought to bear upon a world that has been subjected to other powers and other notions of ‘justice.’
In the Cross God’s power is revealed; so too a godly vision of justice. The Cross is how heaven imposes itself upon a rebellious earth, and is the manner and method of heavenly conquest and victory. In the Cross God brings His power to bear on the earth by allowing a rebellious earth to impose itself upon heaven, and to suffer the world’s ‘justice’ in order to defeat the powers at work on the earth. The powers of evil come fully to bear on Jesus, but they are exhausted in His body, and those powers are broken in His death.
15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
The Cross breaks the power of sin. We often isolate this to individuals, however, it is also at work in other spheres. The justice (the making things good) that is effected within individuals is also effected in the power structures of communities, societies, and nations, through the death of the Messiah. In fact “God was pleased to reconcile all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven;”15 nothing escapes God’s desire for redemption. Even power and justice themselves are redeemed; the Cross is powerful without being coercive, and ushers in justice without collusion with worldly concepts of justice. We should not ignore the fact that the cross was the symbol of Roman power and justice long before it was used by Jesus to symbolize God’s power and justice.16
So the Cross, then, becomes the paradigm for Kingdom thought. If we seek to understand God’s rule and reign, if we seek to come under it, to propagate it, or to implement it; we must think deeply and honestly about the death of Jesus.17 It is for this stated reason that we are left with the twin symbolic ordinances that recall His death, our participation in it, and the results of that on our behalf. Through it, we see God’s power displayed and His justice manifested, His character revealed and His plans culminated.
The phrase Kingdom of God, then, is a shorthand way of referencing the unfolding narrative of God's power coming to bear on the world through a covenant people, with the climax seen in the Crucifixion of Jesus, the promise in terms of His Resurrection, and the future consummation in terms of His judgment and a resulting state that we can call justice...